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Oklahoma expanding vaccine access to teachers, school staff

February 22, 2021 GMT
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FILE - In this March 16, 2020 file photo, Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister speaks in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma opened its second phase of coronavirus vaccinations ...
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FILE - In this March 16, 2020 file photo, Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister speaks in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma opened its second phase of coronavirus vaccinations ...

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma opened its second phase of coronavirus vaccinations on Monday, providing inoculations to public school teachers and staff and to adults of any age with illnesses that make them susceptible to the virus.

“Our goal is to make sure that every Oklahoma teacher and staff member who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can get it by spring break” in mid-March, said health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye at a vaccination clinic in Norman.

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson and the six 2021 teacher of the year finalists were the first to be vaccinated at the clinic.

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More than 681,000 Oklahomans had been vaccinated as of Friday, according to the state health department, and an estimated 60,000 more vaccinations were administered during the weekend, said deputy health commissioner Keith Reed.

About two-thirds of those eligible for the shot in Oklahoma have received a vaccination Reed said.

State schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she expects a higher percentage of public school staff to accept the vaccine.

“Teachers have been clamoring for the prioritization of having the vaccine,” Hofmeister said.

There have been 419,853 coronavirus cases and 4,203 deaths due to COVID-19 in Oklahoma since the pandemic began, the state health department reported.